When one hears of infertility issues, the mind invariably thinks of problems with one’s reproductive system. Among couples, this leads to confusion and anxiety about which of the two is suffering from issues that prevent pregnancy. However, you will be surprised to know that there are causes other than reproductive malfunctions that also lead to infertility. Here we talk about the thyroid gland and how its abnormal function adversely affects a woman’s ability to get pregnant. In fact, hyperthyroidism, as the condition is known, also interferes with a woman’s ability to sustain her pregnancy.
Before we look at how hyperthyroidism affects fertility, let’s take a moment to understand the thyroid gland and its function.
Part of the endocrine system, this gland produces the thyroid hormone which is responsible for regulating the human body’s metabolism. Located in the neck’s front part, this gland influences essentially every metabolic process of your body. If you suffer from hormonal imbalances, the association between the thyroid gland and your fertility can take a negative turn and destabilize the health of your reproductive system. Getting pregnancy in such a situation is difficult.
In a person suffering from hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland is overactive. This causes it to secrete excessive levels of the thyroid hormone. In a body affected by hyperthyroidism, symptoms that are commonly observed include an elevated heart rate, heart palpitations, fatigue, anxiousness, unforeseen weight loss, diminished menstrual flow and most vitally, in this case, absent menstruation.
Overactive Thyroid and Fertility are Negatively Correlated
The excess release of thyroid hormones in the body can cause the ovulation process to lose balance. Consequently, the reproductive health of a woman suffering from hyperthyroidism is disturbed as the dysfunction gets in the way of her monthly ovulation. Irregular periods in women with hyperthyroidism, as such, are a common occurrence.
Such women tend to miss quite a few periods, which means no eggs are released. Fertilization cannot take place in the absence of eggs and thus, pregnancy cannot be achieved. Having said that, there are also cases where the woman might have her periods on time but sans any ovulation. The effect of this is again the same, no pregnancy.
The process of releasing an egg is known as ovulation. When an egg is not released, it’s the opposite of ovulation and is termed as anovulation. If you fear that you’re suffering from anovulation, you can use a predictive kit that can be purchased over the counter (OTC). The kit determines your ovulation status conclusively. If the result indicates ovulation is absent, consult the doctor to get your thyroid levels examined. With the help of a simple and inexpensive blood test, it can be established if you suffer from hyperthyroidism and if so, how severe is the problem.
The first course of treatment once hyperthyroidism is confirmed is medication prescribed by your doctor to limit the excess levels of thyroid hormone being secreted in your body. This could remedy problems with your ovulation and thereby, your fertility.
If the medication prescribed by your doctor fails to control the abnormal release of thyroid hormone in your body, surgically removing the thyroid gland is the only option. Overseen by an endocrinologist, the process involves removing your thyroid and putting you on a round of post-operative medication that releases correct levels of an artificial thyroid hormone. This treatment is extended to all people suffering from a thyroid problem that is beyond the scope of medication. In this case, where infertility is linked to hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland’s removal can possibly cure infertility.
At the outset, however, regulating the thyroid using medication is recommended. The best surrogacy treatment or IVF treatment for women with hyperthyroidism often includes this as the first step. If you fail to conceive a child even after regulation of your thyroid function, continuous monitoring of your ovulation and six months of active efforts towards becoming pregnant, then consulting an infertility expert is the only reliable option.
On a concluding note, it’s advisable to consult a doctor or even an infertility expert if you doubt the involvement of an overactive thyroid gland in your failure at getting pregnant. Do not resort to self-diagnoses or OTC medication to treat your hyperthyroidism. This is because a healthy thyroid is not only important for your health but also that of your unborn child, once you successfully conceive. Thus, it’s best to let a trained and experienced endocrinologist deal with your hyperthyroidism.